“After that, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “Now, that is the real deal right there!” (Okay, that’s not exactly how He phrased Mark 12:43, but it’s the point.)
We who take God’s word seriously sometimes get caught up in the minutiae of word study. As we isolate a parable or story for our Bible study, teaching lesson, or sermon subject, we often end up missing the larger context. Mark 12 is a great case in point.
The chapter is a chronicle of one frustration after another for the Lord, starting with the chief priests, scribes and elders confronting and questioning Him at the end of chapter 11. Chapter 12 begins with Jesus’ parable to them, putting in context precisely what they were doing and the danger they were risking.
These however were people of power and influence. They weren’t interested in learning about God from a carpenter of Galilee. God was their domain. Teaching was what they did. Receiving truth and wisdom from a common laborer was something they would not be doing today or any other day.
Mark 12:12 says, “And they were seeking to seize Him. Yet they feared the multitude…. So they left Him and went away.”
Next came the Pharisees and Herodians, a motley merging of political enemies. The Pharisees were the “moral majority” of their day, the religious right, while the Herodians were compromisers, Jews who supported the tyrant in the palace for the gain that would flow to them. They are “sent” by the previous group (see 12:13), thus embodying the line about politics making strange bedfellows. What they have in common is a dislike for Jesus. They asked their question and got their answer.
“Well!” they must have said to one another. “That didn’t go too well.”